David M. Rabban

  • Dahr Jamail, Randall Hage Jamail and Robert Lee Jamail Regents Chair; University Distinguished Teaching Professor


  • JD Stanford
  • BA Wesleyan University

Professor Rabban served as counsel to the American Association of University Professors for several years before joining the Texas faculty in 1983. He served as General Counsel of the AAUP from 1998 to 2006 and Chair of its Committee on Academic Freedom and Tenure from 2006 to 2012. His teaching and research focus on labor law, higher education and the law, and American legal history. He is best known for his path-breaking work on free speech in American history. He is the author of Free Speech in Its Forgotten Years, 1870-1920 (Cambridge,1997), which received the Forkosch Prize from the Journal of the History of Ideas for "the best book in intellectual history published in 1997." His many articles have appeared in Yale Law Journal, Stanford Law Review, University of Chicago Law Review and elsewhere. He was a fellow at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington, D.C. in 1994-95, and has also been a Visiting Professor at the University of Michigan Law School. His most recent book is Law's History: American Legal Thought and the Transatlantic Turn to History.

Recent Publications

  • Professors Beware: The Evolving Threat of Institutional Academic Freedom, in Academic Freedom in Conflict, 23 (James Turk, ed., James Lorimer & Company LTD, 2014).
  • American Responses to German Legal Scholarship: From the Civil War to World War I, 1 Comparative Legal History 13 (2013).
  • Methodology in Legal History: From the History of Free Speech to the Role of History in Transatlantic Legal Thought, in Making Legal History, 88 (Anthony Musson & Chantal Stebbings, Eds., Cambridge University Press, 2012).

Full list of publications…

Recent Activities

  • Meeting


    American Association of University Professors

    Chaired the June 2012 meeting of the Committee on Academic Freedom and Tenure of the American Association of University Professors.

  • Meeting


    American Political Science Association and the American Society for Legal History

    Participant on panels discussing my forthcoming book, Law's History (Cambridge University Press), at the 2011 annual meetings of the American Political Science Association and the American Society for Legal History.

  • Seminar


    Stanford Constitutional Law Center

    Instructor, "Academic Freedom, Free Speech, and the First Amendment," Institute for Constitutional History - Stanford Constitutional Law Center, June 2011.

Full activities list…